“The Work of Mourning.” Roger Scruton probes the necessity and value of mourning with his characteristic range and insight: “Until the work of mourning has been accomplished, Freud argued, new life, new loves, new engagement with the world are all difficult if not impossible.” Reading this essay from Scruton should whet your appetite for the forthcoming fall issue of Local Culture devoted to his thought. We’ll be posting the cover and table of contents when the issue goes to the printer in the next week or two.
“Following Christ in the Machine Age: A Conversation with Paul Kingsnorth.” Tessa Carman guides Paul Kingsnorth through a long and fascinating conversation. Make time to read the whole thing carefully. They discuss the Machine, the dangers of digital technologies, the future of the church, the value of the past, the importance of limits, and the possibilities of living well: “the solution inevitably is always technological, because nobody can think about anything else. That’s the way we think in our culture: we’ve created the problem with technology, so we must have to solve it with technology. So the issue has boiled down to, the wrong kind of gas is going up into the atmosphere, so we need a fuel technology that doesn’t put it up there, as if that were the problem, rather than the way we’re living our lives, the entirety of the economy, the value system that it’s based on.”
“A Wrinkle in Journalism History.” Marvin Olasky narrates the history of World Magazine and situates what happened to this publication in the broader context of the media industry: “Our remit was broad. We weren’t Church World or Culture-War World or Conservative World. World was conservative on some issues but also ran stories about would-be immigrants and refugees, about the vulnerability of mentally-ill homeless people, about abused women and other “uns,” including the unborn, the undocumented, the unemployed, and the uneducated. We sometimes covered things just because they were fun or interesting, like chess championships. In 2021, though, World’s board decided things had to change.”
“Unlikely Centers of Cultural Change.” James E. Person Jr. commends Coffeehouse Culture in the Atlantic World, 1650-1789 by E. Wesley Reynolds III: “For a time, then, coffeehouses exercised a crucial but (today) largely unremarked influence upon the fashioning of Anglo-American civilization. Mr. Reynolds’s fine book seeks to remedy that deficiency.”
“As Colorado River Dries, the U.S. Teeters on the Brink of Larger Water Crisis .” The West continues to draw down its groundwater: “It’s a national emergency, but not a surprise, as scientists and leaders have been warning for a generation that warming plus overuse of water in a fast-growing West would lead those states to run out.” Abrahm Lustgarten talks with Jay Famiglietti about this worsening crisis.
“How to Value Caring Work.” Leah Libresco Sargeant considers how inhumane systems lead to the exploitation of care workers: “Persecution can make visible the love that might have otherwise expressed itself in more hidden ways, but we must learn to see the quiet virtues, rather than rely on sin and suffering to expose these loves to light.”
“Jesus Would have Hung Out in a Dive Bar—And Not Just to Convert its Patrons.” David Mills suggests that perhaps, just perhaps, Jesus liked the sinners he hung out with: “I think that Jesus ate at his equivalent of our dive bar because he liked the people. Not just loved them, but liked them, enjoyed them for themselves, took pleasure in their company and felt happy just hanging out with them.”
“Books for the Small-Farm Curious.” Brian Miller offers a book list that can form the germ for your “instant farm library.” As an inveterate reader, Brian knows whereof he speaks.
“Designs for Mercy.” David Schaengold articulates Christopher Alexander’s vision of buildings designed for beauty and human flourishing, and he ponders its limits and enduring relevance: “In Christopher Alexander’s view, the homes we live in are fake homes. The cities where we build these homes are fake cities. They offer the image of home, the image of citizenship, but no more. Behind the image is something alien and synthetic – glue-strip architecture, designed to last only as long as it takes to make a sale, oriented around the needs of machines and therefore hostile, in the end, to human life.
“London Goddess Purée.” With his wonderful verve and insight, Matthew J. Milliner tours an exhibit at the British Museum titled “Feminine Power” and finds it fails to make some rather fundamental distinctions: “All in all, celebrating classical statues today to empower women may be like a future archaeologist, upon uncovering an early twenty-first-century billboard advertising a strip club, concluding that our society supremely honoured women because the words “Girls! Girls! Girls!” were printed so large.”
“Parenting Culture is a Disaster.” Jim Dalrymple II takes stock of the hopes and fears that many parents have for their children and advises a recalibration: “If the world is actually getting safer, why are parents getting more protective and anxious about their kids? Why do a majority of parents, as Pew has shown, favor a degree of intervention in their kids’ lives that when I was a kid in the 1980s and 90s would have seemed insane?”